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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Building the show...

First off - the musings of my week.  In between actually doing work I do a fair amount of thinking.  Often, when it looks like I'm watching television, eating toast or shaving, I am simply not there.  Which is why I shave so badly.  This first bit is based on those thoughts about the work in hand.
Right - now I've got a whole load of material, it's all about putting together a coherent show.  It isn't enough to put a load of random stories together and call them a show.  There needs to be a shape.  And there needs to be more than one version of the show.  Some venues will want a shorter format show without an interval - for which the structure of the show, story order and selection, would have to change dramatically. 
I also want to structure in a couple of shorter stories within the show for others to perform - for two very good reasons.  1. Variety.  2.  It gives me a few minutes break.  It also means I get to meet other performers and swap ideas and ways of working, which helps keep me fresh.
So, the bulk of the show will be one large monologue - filling the show in the way Teaching Gods did for the last show.  At present the front runner for that is the newly completed Encounters With Trolls of the Northern Line - which is sweet and a little sad, with not a bit of humour too.  So, how do I arrange the material around this?  Do I use it as a load stone and orbit the shorter stories around it - or do I open with short bits and end with a big slab of story - or visa-versa? 
There is the other contender for long story - The Ghosts of Lavenham - which is slated for performance in October with the other material.  Will I bring that into the touring version, or leave it as a one off for the Lavenham Guildhall event?
I'm also looking at the material and hunting for a theme - something the whole evening, if not hinges on, at least reverberates to.  Maybe the shorter stories should be linked thematically.  At present they don't. 
As I write these shorter pieces, adjust them, rework them, start new pieces, then I hope a theme and angle for the show will appear.
I also have another one-off piece to write - which is a mix of memoir and spoof detective fiction.  Titled "The Adventures of Shermes Hollocks" it covers the funny side of my recent reading show from Christmas.  I'll be doing it June and it might find a place somewhere in the future.

Now, what have I actually been doing.  Well, rehearsing for a start.  Yes, as you will see in the new video blog, out soon, I have moved from my little study into a garage.  This enables me to speak the text aloud, move about a bit and generally through the new stories up in the air.  This is the middle space between writing the show and rehearsing in a proper space, with directors and photographers and other people generally judging me. 
Unfortunately, this means that nothing appears to have happened.  I've read through the stories as writ - but I haven't changed anything yet.  The move has simply enabled me to take in the reality of a spoken text (as opposed to a load of words on a page) and I haven't got to the stage of ripping it to shreds yet.  Yet.  Give it a few more days. 
I also spent much of the last week helping tech a production of Separate Tables, which was jolly nice, as it did get me out of the house.  At this stage of working, you can get a bit house bound.  On Sunday I travelled to London to catch a production of The Seagull, which I was once to have been in.  It was a really sad experience, because - enjoying the show as I did - I felt the loss of being a part of it all quite intensely.  I had started rehearsals, got to know the cast, and then had to leave because of circumstance.  And I hate circumstance.  But the world, and I, move on - and I dived into rehearsing Teaching Gods for recording on Sunday.  I've only got a couple of hours, so I can't risk a few bad takes.  And when that's done, it's off to a wedding.  Which I love to cry at.  Oh no, that's not me, that's a song.  Always getting the two mixed up.

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